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2019 Hall of Fame

2019 marks 150 years of Brown Swiss cattle in the United States. To celebrate this event, your Brown Swiss Historical Society has been highlighting this fact in several ways. This winter/spring, a display board was sent to several state meetings or events. Three articles reviewing those early years of imports are being published as part of the monthly “Visiting the Past” page in the Bulletin in May, June and July/August. Thus it seems fitting that this year’s Hall of Fame Pioneers are Gottfried Burgi & Sons of Arth, Switzerland, and John Beadle Eldredge of Middle Falls, New York.

Gottfried Burgi & Sons, Arth, Switzerland-Pioneer

The Brown Swiss breed in the U.S. is based on a limited number of animals. The Burgi farm in Switzerland was the breeder of about half of the 166 animals imported from 1869 to 1906 where the breeder was identified. Of the 13 importations, ten were brokered by the Burgi family. There is no other single breeding establishment that has had a more marked impact on the U.S. breed than the Burgi family. The Burgi’s were in the business of exporting cattle over the years. They promoted their cattle by showing at the World’s Fairs in London and Paris, and exhibited in Rio, Brazil.

The Burgi farms are located at the bottom of Mount Rigi on the shores of Lake Zug. There were multiple farms by different Burgi family members. Two properties are still owned by his descendents.

Gottfried Burgi was born in 1834. He was a man of many talents as he founded a bank, a newspaper, and a home for unfortunate children in Arth. He acquired multiple properties over the years in Arth. In May of 1891, he transferred his farm to his two sons, Josef Burgi and Oswald Burgi. Josef was instrumental in forming the Swiss Cattle Breeders Association . Two farms are still owned by the Burgi’s. Gottfried died in 1912 while Josef passed away in 1932.

Thus our first Pioneer award for 2019 goes to Gottfried Burgi & Sons or Arth, Switzerland. Their certificate will be sent to the Burgi family.

John Beadle Eldredge (1823-1900)-Pioneer

Not the first, but one of the most important Importers of Brown Swiss from Switzerland was John. B. Eldredge, Middle Falls, New York. His family connections were instrumental in spreading Swiss genetics across the US.

The Eldredge family originally immigrated from England to Massachusetts in the mid-1600’s. John was the 6th generation in the US, born in 1823 in New York. John’s father, Job, established the Eldredge Farm in the mid-1820’s. John decided he wanted to own imported Brown Swiss cattle after seeing them at the farm of Zerah Rider, who lived in the same county. Zerah’s mother was related to John. He tried to buy imported cattle from Harris but upon hearing that his friend Zerah was going to Switzerland, he engaged his services to source some cattle for him.

His first importation arrived on Aug. 27, 1883. Included was the bull, Bonaparte who was outstanding regarding production along with several females. With Mr. Eldredge’s second importation arriving on May 15, 1884, his imports totaled 21 females and one bull (plus 9 head carried in dam) making him the second largest importer of Brown Swiss in the US.

John’s connections across the US helped distribute Swiss in several states. He was related to Thomas Inman, the first man to own Swiss in Wisconsin. Inman purchased cattle from Eldredge as well as F.A.Squires of Minnesota, who had previously purchased cattle from Eldredge, also the first man to own Swiss in Minnesota. Squires wife was related to the mother of John Eldredge. Inman and Squires later became the most important sources for Brown Swiss thoughout the Midwest. Another relative of Eldredge’s mother was Mishael Beadle, early Swiss breeder in Kansas.

Mr. Eldredge died in 1900, but by that time had sold most of his Swiss cattle. His involvement over 17 years made a hugh contribution to the distribution of cattle across the US.

In 1990, the Association received several of these artifacts from the John B. Eldredge Estate including the 7 bells & blanket that are displayed in the entryway of the National office. The bells are identified with G.Burgi, Arth. Again in 2015, we received from Thomas Eldredge of NY several Registration papers, documents and 30 letters from Gottfried Burgi.

We congratulate John Beadle Eldredge as a Pioneer of the Brown Swiss Historical Society.

Connie Gritton Winter(1953-2019)-Meritorious Service

We have also chosen one individual to receive the Meritorious Service award this year. This year we honor Connie Gritton Winter who recently passed away this spring. Connie was devoted to the Brown Swiss Association, to the Historical Society and to the Brown Swiss breed.

Connie’s career with Swiss began in 1975 as Editor of the Brown Swiss Bulletin. She held that position until 1993 when she began her own business, Gritton Graphics. Since that time she has published numerous sale catalogs, mainly Brown Swiss. She was also Editor of the Illinois Holstein Herald. And you know her love for Illini sports, the Cubs, the Bears and her dogs was out the window. Connie married Wes Winter in 1999 and moved to Winslow, IL, shortly thereafter.

In 1980, Connie published the Centennial Edition of the Brown Swiss Bulletin. This was a tremendous history of the first 100 years of the Association. That was a lot of work. She followed that up with a 110th edition in 1990 updating the records through the 1980’s.

Connie joined the Historical Society shortly after its initial meeting. She served as Secretary of BSHS and was on the Publication committee. Since the Spring of 2012 Connie was the main force behind the publication of the Chronicle. She also was instrumental in developing the bios for the Master Breeder awards, preparing the presentations for the awardees at the National Convention, and completing a full story on the award winners in the next Chronicle.

Most recently, Connie was part of a duo creating a display celebrating 150 years of Swiss in the US that was shown at various state meetings and events. Last summer she also helped initiate the monthly page in the Bulletin of “Visiting the Past”. She was always looking for ways for the Society to Preserve the Past to Enrich the Future.

Within 6 weeks, we have lost two very dedicated people of the Historical Society in Connie Gritton Winter and Bernard Monson.